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How to Clean Lice Comb After Lice Removal

How to Clean Lice Comb After Lice Removal
Created on 
March 27, 2023
Updated on 

The most effective way to get rid of lice permanently is to physically remove the lice and nits from the hair. Many parents doing DIY lice treatment wonder about how to clean a lice comb during and after treating a child's hair. Rid your tools of viable lice and eggs using these quick methods.

4 Ways to Clean Lice Comb

Cleaning your lice combs periodically during lice treatment is important because a comb that is choked up with lice bugs and lice eggs won't be as effective. It's not necessary to be meticulous at this stage. Here are 4 tips for quickly cleaning lice comb between hair sections.

1. Under Running Water

  • Turn on running water in an empty sink with a drain guard in case you drop the comb. Don't bother with hot temperatures, as only sustained temperatures greater than you could tolerate would actually kill lice. The lice can go down the drain.
  • Hold the lice comb by the handle in one hand with the tines pointed downwards and rinse under running water.
  • For a metal lice comb, rub a paper towel from the handle to the tips of the tines, pressing firmly on both sides of the tines.
  • For a plastic lice comb (not recommended), use the other hand to fan the tines one at a time and allow running water to run between them.

2. In a Bowl of Water

  • Fill a large bowl or container halfway with room temperature water.
  • Hold the comb by the handle in one hand with the tines pointed downwards, and swish it back and forth in the container to remove loose lice eggs and bugs.
  • Wipe it firmly on a stack of paper towels lying on a table, on both sides, from handle to tips.
  • Get rid of the contents of the bowl (including lice) down the drain when you're done combing.

3. With a Comb Cleaning Tool

  • Some lice combs come with their own cleaning tool. The tool looks like a tuning fork with a piece of string between the tines. Use this to more thoroughly clean out lice after one of the above techniques.
  • Hold your dirty comb up to a light so you can see between the tines, looking for blockages (lice and eggs).
  • Working over a sink, bowl of water, or paper towel, slide the string of the cleaning tool in between the tines with blockages, to the handle and out again, wiping lice off the cleaning tool on a paper towel or rinsing it between passes.

4. Using Dental Floss

head lice
  • If your comb didn't come with a cleaning tool, you can use a dental flosser tool the same way you would use a comb cleaning tool, or loose dental floss in a similar manner.
  • Hold the dental floss taut between your thumbs and forefingers, and slide it in between the tines where you see blockages (lice) all the way to the handle and back out.
  • When using loose floss, it is helpful to have someone else hold up the comb while you use both hands to control the dental floss.

3 Ways to Disinfect a Lice Comb

Always disinfect the lice combs between heads, so as not to transfer lice from one child's hair to another child's head. Keep in mind, though, that if you have oil in your hair, the lice comb will not be able to effectively transfer lice from one head to another. How do you clean a lice comb between people?

1. In Hot Water

Parents ask how long to boil lice comb after using it to treat lice. It's not necessary to boil the comb, since lice will die in temperatures higher than 130 degrees after a short period of time.

  • Use a basic cleaning technique (above).
  • Place the combs, brushes, and clips into a large heat-resistant container.
  • Heat water on stove or in microwave until it just begins to bubble, then pour it into the container until everything is covered with water.
  • Let it soak for about 10 minutes. Dump water (including lice) down the drain and air dry lice tools.

2. In a Dishwasher

It is perfectly safe to wash lice off the combs along with a regular load of dishes (although that may not sit well with you). All the lice will die in the hot temperature, and the lice will be washed down the drain. Head lice do not carry diseases, so it's not necessary use extreme caution when washing off lice.

  • Use a basic cleaning technique (above).
  • Set comb on top rack of dishwasher.
  • Run the sanitization cycle or any cycle with heated drying, even heated drying alone will be effective to kill lice, when they are off the head.

3. Using Rubbing Alcohol

lice comb

If you don't have access to running water, soaking lice in alcohol for 10 minutes will kill lice.

  • Use a basic cleaning technique (above).
  • Set combs and other tools in a plastic container.
  • Pour regular rubbing alcohol (not drinking alcohol) over the tools until they are fully submerged.
  • Soak 10 minutes.
  • Pour used alcohol down the drain and air dry tools.

How Often Do I Need to Clean My Lice Comb?

While performing lice treatment on a single child's head, wipe the comb on a paper towel after each repeat pass down the strands. Occasionally hold it up to a light to check for blockages.

When you notice that the spaces between the teeth are significantly blocked by lice eggs which don't come off on the paper towel, perform one of the simple cleaning techniques above to rid the tool of lice eggs.

Can I Reuse Lice Comb?

Can you reuse lice comb for multiple treatments? The careful sanitizing treatments detailed above are effective enough to remove lice from your tools so you can use them again immediately. With these cleaning techniques, it is safe to use the same tools on each child between cleanings.

Good quality stainless steel lice comb should last many years, making it more eco-friendly, as you may need to replace plastic ones due to breakage after lice treatment.

Can Lice Live on a Lice Comb?

lice treatments

If you're using plenty of oil like a lice expert, you shouldn't see live lice moving on the comb. Oil loosens the lice eggs, but it also immobilizes live lice, making it easier to get rid of lice after treatment without them crawling all over.

Fortunately, the entire lice life cycle has to take place on a human head. Lice left off the head for more than 24-36 hours will be dead, whether they are in combs or anything else.

Lice eggs are no longer viable when they are removed from the child. Lice eggs cannot re-attach, and a nit cannot hatch anywhere else.


To get rid of lice for good, removing the lice eggs is critical. A good lice comb can make lice treatments faster and easier. Even still, repeat lice treatments are a lot of work. Call LiceDoctors to book an appointment for a lice expert to get rid of lice and lice eggs for good, guaranteed!

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